Monday, 29 March 2010

Let's hear it for the hand made

While many of my writing friends may not be into knitting, I suspect many will be into art and in this case the art of knitting.
I had the privilidge last Friday to launch Loani Prior's second book aimed at the eccentric knitters market. Really Wild Tea Cosies takes up where Wild Tea Cosies left off.
How does a non-knitting bloke launch a knit one purl one book to an audience of youngish women (age range 30 up) many of whom are sitting in the audience watching, waiting and, yes, knitting. I was feeling a bit initmidated but they were very forgiving.

I won them over by establishing my knitting credentials through my late mother whose eccentric jumper I draped around my shoulders in solidarity and reverence. 10 years ago she knitted me an oversize multicoloured jumper which I had chosen from a pattern book she had unwisely offered me. It nearly killed her.

I was on a roll when I did a reading from Loani's book - as you do at book launches - and read out half a page of knitting instructions. When I was able to translate sl st to slip stitch - there were nods of approval and a wave of spontaneous applause. I was home.

So what does this re-emergence of the 'old' crafts mean. Perhaps these women are reaching an age when they can see value in their mother's ability to create things of beauty from simple materials.
Perhaps they are bored with reality TV and chatting on-line and yearn for direct human contact. Perhaps they are sick of being sold a materialist, consumer oriented message at every turn.
What about the blokes? Well the phenomenon of 'Men's Sheds' is sweeping Australia - where local councils or community organisations set up shared spaces with shared equipment for blokes to make things. It's part of the move to reduce isolation in older men and to reduce depression. They're joining in droves.
Women have always been much more social and know the value of sitting and chatting or stitching and bitching as one of my friends describes it. They learn from each other and even from the women next door who are also making things by hand but don't need large machines and 3 phase power to do it.
I hope that this means a return , not to old fashion values, but to the valuing of the personal and the human in creating a meaningful life.
That's why I write. And garden. And join a book club. And .....


Alex Daw said...


Unspoken said...

Good for you! Women can be a hard group to break into when gathered.

Queen of the Tea Cosies said...

And what an EXCELLENT job you did of winning their hearts and warming them up for me.